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Businesses Communications Wireless Networking

LightSquared Satellite Disabled By Last Week's Solar Storm 70

Posted by timothy
from the it's-in-the-cloud dept.
volts writes "Troubled LightSquared's primary Skyterra 1 satellite has been out of service since the solar storm on March 7. The company says it is 'working through the rebuild of the satellite tapping into the resources that were involved in the original program.' This development follows a stream of bad news including layoffs, default on payments, the resignation of CEO Sanjiv Ahuja and FCC rejection of a scheme to repurpose satellite frequencies for cellular data due to interference with GPS. Another kick in the teeth as company struggles to avoid bankruptcy."
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LightSquared Satellite Disabled By Last Week's Solar Storm

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  • This is a cover-up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @02:56PM (#39369315)

    They'll use this as an excuse for bankruptcy/liquidation/etc. "Don't blame us, blame the Sun."

  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @03:00PM (#39369375)

    Interesting, LS doesn't happen to have an insurance policy on that baby that would payoff if it failed do they?

    • by zerro (1820876)
      yes.. was just thinking the same thing... great excuse! - "The solar flare burned down ma failing business..."
      • by Anonymous Coward

        "I'm here to collect my castle insurance."
        "What happened?"
        "It sank into the swamp."
        "Your policy doesn't cover swamps, we explicitly removed that when you said you were building it in a swamp."
        "Well, before if sank into the swamp it fell over."
        "Also not covered, the shoddy foundation of a swamp made the falling over inevitable."
        "While your engineers still hold to that claim, I'm fairly certain it only fell over because of the fire."
        "A fire? In a stone castle? Built in the swamp?"
        "Yes."
        "Ok, that's covered,

        • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

          by tomhath (637240) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @03:51PM (#39370005)
          This is much closer to real life than you probably think. After Hurricane Katrina, people found they didn't have flood insurance. So they sued, claiming their house was blown apart by the wind before it washed away.
          • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Psion (2244) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @04:35PM (#39370529)
            And back in the great earthquake of '06, folks set fire to their quake-smashed homes because their insurance covered fire but not quakes. As a result, out-of-control fires caused more damage to San Francisco than the earthquake itself.
          • by artor3 (1344997)

            In fairness, many of those people were being honest. A good friend of mine had her home wrecked by Hurricane Gustav. It blew off the roof off the house, allowing rain to come in and flood the interior, destroying basically everything she owned. If it hadn't been for the wind removing the roof, there wouldn't have been any flooding, so I think it's quite reasonable to classify it as wind damage.

            Admittedly, not every homeowner could claim this. In Katrina especially, due to the failing levies, there were

      • Insurance (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @04:16PM (#39370275)
        According to Space News, "SkyTerra 1 is insured for about $268 million, a policy for which LightSquared paid a $37.5 million premium." You can't talk about actual coverage for a loss without having the policy in front of you. Solar flares are a pretty obvious risk for which you would want coverage, although the obvious big risk is total loss on launch.
        • by BlueStrat (756137)

          The part I found interesting in TFS (yes, it's /. and I know reading it is unpossible) was; "The company says it is 'working through the rebuild of the satellite tapping into the resources that were involved in the original program.' "

          Who here in the US feels another taxpayer-reaming coming up?

          I wish the government, if it has to be involved in somehow assisting/subsidizing/granting the areas of technology/green energy/space/etc would stop just freaking handing out money to people, usually with political don

    • by BronsCon (927697)

      I'm sure it was insured against a great number of possible occurences, and I'm sure there were just as great a number of exclusions. Have you ever read an insurance document?

      • Yup, in the middle, about page 12, in 1 point font:

        12.5.2.1(a) This policy excludes coverage of everything that actually occurs
        12.5.2.1(b) This policy excludes coverage of everything that does not occur

  • by migloo (671559)
    Solar justice is being served.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @03:08PM (#39369507)

    From TFS:

    Another kick in the teeth as company needs struggles to avoid bankruptcy.

    Yep. as company needs struggles.

    Now I've been around for a while, so I'm familiar with /.'s keyboard-bashing monkey approach to editing, and the general crappy quality of summaries. But it seems to me the last couple weeks have had a high incidence, even by /. standards, of these nonsense phrases in summaries. And it's getting old.

    • by Americano (920576) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @04:24PM (#39370397)

      I heard what you are said. But in a seriously note, I think you needs struggles to avoid blowing you're top.

      Interestingly, it seemed they will edited the summary to finishing with, "Another kick in the teeth as company struggles to avoid bankruptcy."

      Maybe this been a new approach to editing, and they just randomly insert and words until something vaguely intelligible on the screen?

      (Editors: please consider this post a writing sample for purposes of my employment as a member of the crack /. editing team.)

      • by volts (515080)

        When I submitted this article, the preview wasn't reliably displaying changes to text in the edit box; "needs struggles" got by me.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          When I submitted this article, the preview wasn't reliably displaying changes to text in the edit box;

          Yeah, that's been broken for quite a while. I hate the way they changed journal submissions, too.

          "needs struggles" got by me.

          Fixing that's supposed to be an editor's job. Sometimes they do an excellent job and sometimes they do a really bad one.

  • "Another kick in the teeth as company needs struggles to avoid bankruptcy." This "sentence" makes my brain bleed.

  • They just get hit with solar flares and fizzle out.

    Seriously though, the only angle that LightSquard had was, "It's already up there, all we have to do it turn it on..." and that has just gone up in smoke. Just like their business model and momentum. It's time they go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan, get new backers, and find a new way to do what they want to do.

    • Re:Idea's don't die (Score:4, Interesting)

      by riverat1 (1048260) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @04:06PM (#39370173)

      Actually I think if they had just stayed with satellite level signals instead of trying to get their high powered ground source signals approved they probably would have been ok with the FCC.

      • Re:Idea's don't die (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ngg (193578) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @05:20PM (#39371067) Homepage
        There's no 'probably' about it. LS bought spectrum that was specifically earmarked for use in satellite to ground communications (which was why they got such a bargain on it in the first place: no other potential bidder could think of a profitable way to use it). Their problems only began when LS decided that they wanted to use this inexpensive spectrum for ground to ground communications, instead of using a more expensive band like everybody else. They attempted to exploit a loop-hole that the FCC created when it allowed "supplemental" ground stations for sat broadcasts (like for inside tunnels) by launching a sat for an ostensibly satellite-based broadband business (while actually transferring the bulk of the data from ground-based transmitters).
  • Nail in the coffin (Score:1, Interesting)

    by koan (80826)

    Even God wants you to fail.

    Another thought; since this was a put together deal by a bunch of investors to sell off at a later date, (or so it seems) it reminds me of the late 90's when groups of "investors" were buying up mom and pop dial up ISP's bundled them under the same name then selling them off, they had no intention of doing anything for the customer, the individual accounts were just a body count.
    Lightsquared seems like a similar deal:
    "The legal team now includes Theodore Olson, who helped George W

  • I don't actually believe in karma, but if it did exist then this would be a very appropriate example.
    • I don't actually believe in karma, but if it did exist then this would be a very appropriate example.

      Not believing in Evolution doesn't make one impervious to its effects...

      Karma-Bonus Modifier: +1

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @04:23PM (#39370375)

    As soon as it was found LightSquared interfered with GPS (which was a while ago) all permission should have been axed and the company disbanded.

    Instead, because of heavy donations to the Democratic party they got the blessing of the FCC to proceed despite actual physical interference to others caused by the product, making it inevitable the company could never go to market. [hotair.com]

    Some partisans will inevitably come down on me simply because of the origin of that news. But you can't deny the connections and how obvious it was the FCC should NEVER have allowed certification not matter who was involved.

    Political connections should NEVER override something as important as allowing experiments that interfere with devices as important as GPS!

    • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @04:59PM (#39370827)

      LightSquared made a $30,400 donation to the Democrats in Sept, 2010. One month later, in October, they made an identical $30,400 donation to the Republicans.

      And yet strangely, people like SuperKendall only ever seem to mention the donation to the Democrats. I wonder why that is?

      By the way, why do you feel that the FCC shouldn't have even let them test out their idea? Sure, it was probably doomed to failure, but I don't see the harm in letting them test it out with their own money.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomhath (637240)
        Maybe because there were several $100K in other donations besides the two you mention?
        • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @06:23PM (#39371673)

          Got a source to back that up? I can't find any sources to support your claim, even on the most conservatives sites.

          Wikipedia seems to agree with me:

          The Federal Election Commission has no record of Phil Falcone, a registered Republican, nor LightSquared Chairman and CEO Sanjiv Ahuja of having ever contributed to President Obama’s political campaigns.[39] However, since 2007, Philip Falcone has donated $50,500 to the Democratic Senatorial campaign Committee (and $85,500 to Republicans). Both Falcone's wife and LightSquared CEO Ahuja donated $30,400 to the DSCC (Ahuja gave the same amount to Republicans).

          So tell me, where did you get this stuff about "several hundred thousand dollars in other donations"?

      • And yet strangely, people like SuperKendall only ever seem to mention the donation to the Democrats. I wonder why that is?

        It's because the Republicans have no power currently over the FCC.

        The Democrats do, the actions taken are squarely on them. Note that it's a REPUBLICAN investigating. I wonder why you failed to mention THAT.

        Talk about partisan...

        • by artor3 (1344997)

          Is your theory that LightSquared donated roughly equal amounts of money to both parties, with the GOP actually receiving slightly more, as a way of currying favor with Obama? That they went to Obama and said, "Here's $100k. We gave even more to the men who have sworn to destroy you at any cost. Now do us a favor!"

          Can't you see how illogical that is? Here's my theory: LightSquared is run by morons. They were morons to think that this plan would work in the first place, and that same stupidity drove the

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        LightSquared made a $30,400 donation to the Democrats in Sept, 2010. One month later, in October, they made an identical $30,400 donation to the Republicans.

        You know, that should be a felony. If you give money to both candidates in a race, it's clearly bribery. Is it no wonder our country is so screwed up these days? Or that there seems to be little difference between Ds and Rs?

    • Lightsquared got a $267 million dollar federal loan from the Dept of Agriculture. LightSquared's major backer is Philip Falcone, a high-level Democratic party donor and owner of Harbinger Capital, the venture fund with a $3 billion majority stake in LightSquared. And what were democrats saying about evil capitalists?

      Given that Lightsquared's hardware interferes with GPS, it doesn't surprise me that their satellite wasn't designed properly either. My theory is that they designed all their hardware as chea

  • Why should the Sun be at fault if lightsquared can't be bothered to build their satellites to the correct frequency of space/time?

  • They are going to blame it on piracy, or terrorism. I know it.

    So they can make a profit off it. Blame it on the Sun and it's an act of god! (notice, i didn't capitalize god. good, it don't exist.)

  • Couldn't have happened to nicer people.
  • From http://www.issi-us.net/ [issi-us.net] "Per our previous communication we continue to work the key procedures to restore Skyterra 1 to service. Based on our current progress we now estimate that we will return customers to service by 1200 EST (1600 UTC) on Sunday."

    Did anyone even read TFA?

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